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Montana Audubon works at the local, state and national policy levels to protect our natural heritage.


Each year Montana Audubon recognizes its heroes and honors its champions at our Bird Festival. The complete list of individuals recognized through our awards can be downloaded HERE: MT_Audubon_Award_List.

Congratulations to our 2018 Award Winners:

Lewis Young ~ Lifetime Achievement Award

Lewis Young (right) and Kristi DuBois (left). Lewis was honored with Montana Audubon’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

This year, Montana Audubon recognized an individual who has given a great deal of time, energy and hard work to Audubon and conservation in Northwestern Montana for our Lifetime Achievement Award: Lewis Young. We recognized Lewis for:

His professional contributions to conservation by:

  • Working for over 30 years on National Forests as a strong advocate for wildlife;
  • Working as a wildlife biologist to develop an effective wildlife mitigation program for Libby Dam on the Kootenai National Forest; and
  • Striving to maintain sharp-tailed grouse in the Tobacco Valley near Eureka. This work continues today and has resulted in the development of several viable restoration plans.

His years of active service to Flathead Audubon, including as:

  • A long-time Board member and a co-chair of Flathead Audubon’s conservation committee (among other committees);
  • One of Flathead Audubon’s most dedicated and versatile field trip leaders;
  • An organizer and leader of the Eureka Christmas Bird Count;
  • Current editor of the chapter’s monthly newsletter; and
  • An active volunteer bird monitor. He currently monitors a peregrine falcon eyrie, bands bluebirds, and occasionally assists with eagle and owl surveys.

And for his long-term active service to other wildlife by his:

  • Dedication to bat monitoring and conservation; and
  • Active participation in many conservation organizations in addition to Flathead Audubon Society, including The Nature Conservancy, Montana Chapter of The Wildlife Society, and many other non-profit organizations and community groups.

We applaud Lewis for his commitment to Audubon and bird (and bat) conservation—as well as his work and contributions to the state of Montana.

Denny Olson ~ Educator of the Year Award

Denny Olson (right) and Larry Berrin (left). Denny was honored with Montana Audubon’s Educator of the Year Award.

This year Montana Audubon presented Denny Olson with our Educator of the Year Award. Denny has been teaching about nature and conservation for 46 years. He has authored 5 natural history books, and trained thousands of naturalists, teachers, and students in storytelling techniques.

This award celebrates Denny’s many education accomplishments, including:

  • His work as a life-long environmental education professional. He has performed his humorous alter-egos over 3,500 times, in 49 states, for over 2 million people – including to about 30 birding festivals.
  • His work with Flathead Audubon. When Denny took on the role of chapter Conservation Educator in 2016, the program took off. Today it reaches 5,000 people (over 5% of the population) in Flathead County each year.
  • His ability to reach new audiences.
  • The diversity of programs he offers.
  • And on and on…

Denny has forged an unlikely union between science, humor, and drama—and established a reputation as an innovative performer and conservation educator. Flathead Audubon—and the Kalispell area—are lucky to have such a dedicated educator in their midst.

Dan Bennett ~ Conservationist of the Year Award

This year, Montana Audubon and Upper Missouri Breaks Audubon recognized Dan Bennett for his commitment to conservation with our 2018 Conservationist of the Year Award.

As examples of Dan’s dedication, he has:

  • Been an active member of Upper Missouri Breaks Audubon for many decades;
  • During his involvement with the chapter, he has utilized his skills as a paralegal to tirelessly research environmental issues. He has been the Upper Missouri Breaks Audubon Conservation Committee Chairman for many years;
  • Contributed a monthly article to the newsletter about pertinent conservation issues of interest to members, inspiring and informing them to get involved with these issues;
  • Shared his experience and knowledge of natural history and conservation with members by leading hundreds of field trips for both Audubon and his other volunteer organization, the Montana Wilderness Association. His hikes excite people to appreciate special places so that they are inspired to protect them; and
  • Quietly and with great determination over at least 20 years, Dan has made it his mission to protect the Badger-Two Medicine area from natural resource development. This area is sacred to the Blackfoot people and important to many Montanans.

It’s probably impossible to estimate the number of hours that Dan has provided to Upper Missouri Breaks Audubon.

We appreciate Dan’s work, and thank him for his tireless efforts and commitment to Audubon, birds, natural resource conservation, and the state of Montana!

Steve Gniadek ~ Citizen Scientist of the Year Award

Steve Gniadek (left) and Amy Seaman (right). Steve was honored with Montana Audubon’s Citizen Scientist of the Year Award.

Birds are the heart of Montana Audubon. This year we would like to recognize a professional scientist who is now turning into a volunteer “citizen scientist” in his retirement. He has contributed significantly to our understanding of birds—and many other wildlife species—particularly in the Glacier National Park Area, where he worked between 1987 and 2009. It is my pleasure to honor Steve Gniadek with our 2018 Citizen Scientist of the Year Award.

As examples of some of the work that Steve has done:

  • He annually conducts Breeding Bird Surveys (also known as BBS routes) for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. He is coming up on his 100th BBS survey this year. We know of only two other people in Montana that have exceeded 100 BBS surveys in the state—which can only be done because a person surveys multiple routes per year. Steve has done up to 5 routes.
  • He is a significant contributor to the Montana Natural Heritage Program’s database on birds. Starting in 1976, Steve has contributed 16,059 records for 330 species and counting. This includes 2,027 observations for 70 Montana Species of Concern. His records span more than 40 years, starting in 1976.
  • Highlights of Steve’s work at Glacier included surveys for common loons, harlequin ducks, bald and golden eagles, cliff-nesting raptors, nocturnal owls, northern hawk owls, black swifts, and songbirds. And research on lynx, wolverine, pikas, bighorn sheep, harlequin ducks, and Brewer’s (timberline) sparrows.

Whether working as a professional biologist, or advocating as a citizen, Steve has always been a strong voice for all wildlife and their habitats. He has a long-term history of standing up for what is right when it comes to wildlife, including birds.

Congratulations—and THANK YOU—to all!

Past Awards

2017 Awards

These awards were presented at our annual Bird Festival in Great Falls in 2017. We recognize these individuals and groups for their excellent work:

2016 Awards

These awards were presented at our annual Bird Festival in Missoula in 2016. We recognize these individuals and groups for their excellent work:

  • Conservationist of the Year ~ Becky Kean (Montana Raptor Conservation Center)
  • Environmental Educator of the Year ~ Larry Weeks (Missoula)
  • Citizen Scientist of the Year ~ Gary Swant (Deer Lodge)
  • Lifetime Achievement Award ~ Bev Orth Geoghegan (Five Valleys Audubon)
  • Outstanding Achievement ~ Jeff Marks, Dan Casey & Paul Hendricks (co-authors of the 2016 reference book, Birds of Montana)
  • Science Outreach Award ~ Whisper Camel-Means and Stephanie Gillin (Tribal Wildlife Management Program, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes)

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